What Your Favorite Christmas Movies Are Really About

True Meanings of 20 Holiday Classics You Know and Love

Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, chances are you’ve seen a Christmas-themed movie or two. Or thirty. Many of us begin watching these films at a young age, appreciating them for capturing the “true meaning of Christmas,” without knowing what that actually means. But the problem isn’t that we’re confused about the significance of Christmas. We are, but the real problem is that we’ve got the true meanings of these movies all wrong.

The films we fell in love with as kids reveal more layers every time we watch. So, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular and beloved Christmas movies to hopefully explain the hidden and not-so-hidden messages behind them. Keep reading only if you’re ready for your minds to be blown and your childhood fantasy worlds to be shattered.

WARNING: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.

1. Elf

(Screenshot/Whysoblu.com)

Memorable quote: “I’m sorry I ruined your lives and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR.”

What it’s really about: Disappointment. Your dad is never what you hoped he’d be the first time you meet him. And you’re not what he expected either.

2. A Christmas Story

(Screenshot/Screenprism)

Memorable quote: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

What it’s really about: Not sure how many different ways we need to say this, but guns are bad, mmkay?

3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

(Screenshot/PRNewswire)

Memorable quote: “I’m cute! I’m cuuuuuuute!”

What it’s really about: Rosacea.

4. Frosty the Snowman

(Screenshot/A Cartoon Christmas)

Memorable quote: “And when I start to melt, I get all wishy-washy.”

What it’s really about: A snowman is a metaphor for that friend you see a lot during the holidays but then don’t see again for like 10 months because he has a cocaine problem.


To see the rest of this list, head over to the full article on Medium!

Lance’s Story

Life is unpredictable. You can plan out every detail and be amazed or disappointed with the way things unfold, or you can roll with the punches and choose your moments to take action. You may know where or who you want to be ten years from now, but to think you have complete control over the way it plays out is incredibly shortsighted.

In July of 2010, we had to put our dog down. Woody was an English Mastiff — the huge dog from The Sandlot — with an ambiguous past. We rescued him when he was about four years old, so the first few years of his life were a mystery to us and even to the woman who’d found him in the woods (hence, the name). He was great with us; he just didn’t like certain people, and he was untrusting of strangers. I don’t think he liked the smell of cigarettes, either.

Large dogs don’t live quite as long as smaller pooches because of physical complications, especially with the hips and back legs. When we said goodbye to Woody, we agreed not to get another dog. For the foreseeable future, our home would be petless. Cleaner, yes, and at least a little quieter — but as empty as it’d felt in years.

A couple of months later, my family drove up to Lake Placid for my cousin’s wedding. My brother and I had floated around the idea of getting a puppy, but my dad wasn’t entertaining it. Mom kept her opinions to herself because she didn’t want to take sides (read: Mom wanted a dog but wouldn’t say anything). While in our hotel room, my dad’s phone buzzed. His friend had found a German Shepherd tied to a pole on the side of the road a few days earlier. Dad’s buddy was an active volunteer for a German Shepherd rescue organization and a dog owner himself, so he didn’t want his home overrun by Shepherds.

“I, uh, know you guys were maybe looking for a dog…”

My dad’s biggest mistake was showing us a picture of the pup, which was the point I made when arguing why we should take the dog. If Dad didn’t want to get another dog, why would he show his family — three people who clearly wanted another pet — a photo of an adorable, helpless German Shepherd? He unconsciously wanted the house to be less clean, less quiet, less empty.

Nothing about the future is foreseeable.

On September 6th, 2010, we officially got Lance, our new pet and family member. If you’re wondering where in the hell we got Lance from, we’d begun brainstorming names in that Lake Placid hotel room. After tossing around a few stupid ideas, my dad’s friend told us he had taken the dog to the vet and the vet said the dog only had one testicle.

That was it. We named him Lance. (Now he has none.)


To read more about Lance, check out the full story on Medium.

An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

Dear Senator Sanders,

My family comes from middle-class roots. Both of my grandfathers — though I only ever met one of them — worked their butts off to provide for their families.

My mom’s father wore several hats, working as a machinist for Merrill Bros. for over thirty-five years while also serving as the shop steward for his union and driving a limousine on the weekends. His work ethic made it possible for my mom and her three sisters to have a better life. Unfortunately, he passed away three months before I was born. My dad’s father worked a variety of jobs throughout his life, including driving trucks for a bread company, operating his own soda company called Whippersnapper Soda Co., and serving in the U.S. military. He too, unfortunately, passed away several years ago.

My parents have inherited the hustle gene from their fathers, with the goal of raising my brother and me in an environment rife with opportunity. As I type this, I have a full-time job, with the freedom and ability to pursue my professional, financial, and personal goals. My brother currently interns for a major network television station. I know we will continue the family legacy of hard work and pass the value of hustle down to our children as well.

Yet, I can’t help but feel like something is missing from this equation…


Head over to Medium to continue reading my letter to Senator Sanders.

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Point A to Point B

Stories about my first car

My dad drives with both feet. He uses his right for the gas and his left for the brake. I’ve seen him do it for years, and he’s the best driver I know. But you can’t pass the road test using two feet, so he didn’t teach me to drive like that. He didn’t teach me much of anything when it comes to cars. I never really wanted to learn.

I’ve picked up a few things about batteries and tire pressure along the way, and I get my oil changed every five-thousand miles. But I always just wanted something that would get me from Point A to Point B.

The car I deserved but not the one I needed

I got my license in December of 2007. Because of my black 1999 Hyundai Tiburon’s appearance, I named it the Batmobile, even if it couldn’t handle conditions like snow, heavy rain, or strong gusts. My whip sported a black cover on the front-end (sometimes called a bra, or more appropriately a mask) and sweet silver pinstripes across the sides. These, of course, came with the vehicle I’d “inherited” from my father (for the price of $2000).

Once I got more comfortable driving, I took full advantage of my sporty, all-black coupe. Late at night, when nobody else was on the roads, I used to turn the lights off and reenact that chase scene from Batman Begins. I have always been against texting while driving and I realize the hypocrisy here, but this type of danger was a rush for me. Cops and deer aside, I considered this a calculated risk and it made me feel cool as hell.

Train tracks and tow trucks

On the way back from a sweet sixteen party, I got into my first accident. Thankfully, it didn’t involve any other cars — just myself, my passenger, and the Batmobile.

I pulled up to a five-way intersection, on a road that I’d never driven at night. At this point, I had only been licensed for about four months. A few streetlights were out, making it difficult to see the road in front of us. The street forked ahead, split by railroad tracks that ran through the center of town.

As the driver, all I had to do was choose either left or right of the tracks, but apparently I couldn’t make that decision. The Batmobile wound up directly on the train tracks, wedged in a spot I had originally suspected to be asphalt.

My car had to be towed, suffering two flat tires and a bowed front axle. My dad arrived about five minutes after my passenger’s mom left and about ten minutes after the cops showed up.

RRtracksThe police stayed until the tow truck guy hooked up my car to his winch. They didn’t even ask me if I had been drinking — I guess my face told the whole story.

“You’re probably the 40th or 50th person I’ve towed from this spot. They should put more lights around here,” the tow truck guy offered some reassurance. “But then I’d probably go out of business.”

The commotion attracted one intoxicated man from the corner bar, located less than fifty steps from where my vehicle was stuck. “I hope you’re not drunk, man. You’re in a lot of trouble if you are.” I wasn’t. Just young and stupid.

Camera phones and blue balls

We pulled over to a stretch with no streetlights, in between two houses. There were no lights on in the house in front of us, and the one behind us appeared void of life.

This wasn’t the first time she said “I love you,” and it wasn’t the last time I said it back. But it was the first time I’ve tried to have sex in a car—and perhaps the last.

Sliding over the center console, my pocket caught on the E-brake (maybe a sign of things to come). We were veiled in the shadows of the darkest road in town, yet in such a secluded place, I felt anything but alone. She ran her fingers up my leg and undid the button on my shorts. I returned the favor because I’m fair like that. As we began to slip out of our skin, a flash went off outside the car.

“What the fuck was that?!” We panicked.

I jumped into the driver’s seat and turned the key, shorts barely on. The headlights shined on a woman walking a tiny dog. She squinted to see who was in the car, but I sped off before she could make us out. My girlfriend worried that we had almost hit the woman; I worried that we’d almost hit the dog. Then we both wondered if the woman had photographed my license plate.

Low gear

Fresh off a breakup, I was driving around with my best friend. On our way home, I slowed down at the top of a hill. It was one of those nights I wished I could just hit the gas and take flight, to hover over my moonlit town.

My friend looked down at the gear shift. “Dude, what’s L?”

L? I don’t know, I’ve never noticed it before.”

“Maybe it’s levitate…”

Suburban_night_skyWe were both pretty sure it stood for low gear, but neither of us said it out loud. That type of negativity wasn’t welcome in the Batmobile. You know when you’re aware something’s not possible, but you want it to happen so badly that you kind of hope you’re dead wrong?

I took one last look at my friend before shifting into L and gunning it towards the hill.

When we reached the bottom of the slope, tires still on the ground, we shared a laugh and a shrug. He opened the glove box and checked my car’s owners manual to see what L really stood for.

“Is it low gear?”

“Yeah.”

***

I’ve driven two cars since I traded in the Batmobile — an SUV named Sophia and a sedan I call Nancy. The names change, the passengers change, the ways I tell the stories change, but the habits don’t. Things I used to double check, like the positions of my mirrors or making sure my lights are off, have become second nature. Mindless rituals, instilled in me since that first car, force me to think that maybe I’ve learned more than I wanted to. Sometimes I’ll look down and notice I’m driving with both feet.

Do you remember your first car? Tell me a story about it.


A different version of this piece appears in the Medium publication Human Parts.

Why I Don’t Keep My Promises

Promises are interesting phenomena. We all make promises — to our children, to our parents, to our significant others, to our friends, even to ourselves — and sometimes (maybe more often for some of us), we break them. We can’t, realistically speaking, keep every single promise we make. The only surefire way to avoid breaking promises is to refrain from making them altogether.

So, why do so many of the promises make end up broken?

In her Huffington Post article mentions that some people continue to break their promises because “saying you are going to do something feels just as good as actually doing it.”

I consider myself a man of my word. I’d like to think most people know that when I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. This is probably because of the conviction with which I assert things. If I declare with confidence that I’m going to do something and it sounds legitimate, why not believe it’s going to get done?

That being said, I can’t count how many times I’ve told myself I’m going to go for a run today and simply haven’t done it. A lot of times, I even mention to coworkers how I’m going to run later to try to solidify my plans, but I always end up looking like a lazy, Oreo-guzzling piece of shit when they ask me about my “run” the next day.

Now, going for a run is a small-scale example; it doesn’t affect anyone but me if I do or don’t exercise, and it really doesn’t even affect me that much. Come to think of it, most of the promises I break only affect me, small and large-scale.

This is why I want to focus on the promises I make to myself. These are the ones that affect only me by design — the ones that, if broken, disappoint me and only me because others hardly ever know I make them. These are the promises made on a bigger scale, or at least they seem that way. Perhaps I put more weight into them because they are that much more important to me than going for a run.

I’m talking about the promises I make to myself that truly challenge me as a person. I’m talking about the ones that are hard to keep not because they’re impossible but because I know myself too well.


 

Awhile back, I promised myself I would write more frequently. But, because I’m lazy, uninspired, and afraid of publishing anything less than “perfect” (in my eyes), I have been writing sporadically at best. To shed some light on this point, I started this post about promises over two months ago.

According to Robert Wicklund and Peter Gollwitzer’s Self-Completion Theory (1982), we engage in behaviors that reinforce specific identity goals to which we are committed. So, I want to write more frequently because I consider myself a “writer” and the only way to prove to myself and others that I am a writer is to write.

A few months ago, I made a “25 Before 25” list with some coworkers, detailing twenty-five goals I want to accomplish before I reach the quarter-century mark. I may have completed several of the things on that list already, but I don’t expect to accomplish much more. The worst part is that I knew I wouldn’t do some of these things when I made the list. In fact, I only added certain items to the list to pad my stats, so to speak. I essentially filled a bucket list with things I had already done to make it look like I’d accomplished something in my life. After all, I can’t break a promise I’ve already followed through with.

My best and most recent example of a broken promise is my vow to stay positive. Unlike my “25 Before 25” list, which I only shared with my coworkers, and my personal pledge to write more, I publicized this commitment to positivity to any close friends and family members willing to listen. (So, like three people total.)

It took me a lot longer to break this promise than I thought it would. I’m not sure if it had to do with the scope of the pledge, but for a few good weeks, I was committed to being positive. Or at least I thought I was.

See, what I mistook for positivity turned out to be a neutrality that was uncharacteristic in and of itself, but — when compared to my usual pessimism — seemed groundbreaking. So, rather than displaying true positivity for this span, I was fooling myself with my lack of negativity.

While vowing to stay positive sounds beneficial on the surface, I made the biggest mistake any of us can make when I made that promise. I did it for the wrong reasons.

I can try to explain why I break promises I make to myself and others through psychological terms and thirty-year-old theories, but the real reason is plain and simple. When I make a promise for the wrong reasons, I am extremely unlikely to keep it. And this is probably true for all of us.

I compiled that “25 Before 25” list to give myself something to reach for, and I self-sabotaged my chance for growth. I tried to write more often because I believed it was something I needed to do to maintain my identity, and I found myself with nothing to write about. And I decided to try on my positivity hat for a few weeks because I thought I could trick myself into being happy. Perhaps that was my worst mistake.

I viewed happiness as a goal rather than a state of being. This is dangerous because: 1. I classified my well-being as a temporary goal and 2. How can we measure the success of an objective that is completely intangible? What is the metric for happiness?

Earlier in this article, I mention that the only way not to break a promise is not to make it in the first place. But after analyzing all of the recent broken promises I’ve made to myself, I’ve realized that the best way to avoid breaking promises — and maybe the only way — is to make them for the right reasons.

On Detours

According to Merriam-Websterdetour is defined as “a deviation from a direct course or the usual procedure.” Most people — myself included, until recently — consider detours a major inconvenience. A detour is often deemed a hindrance, viewed purely as an obstacle we must overcome on our way to work, school, or wherever we may be traveling.

About a month ago, construction started on a road I take to work in the morning, leaving it open only to local traffic. This construction has forced me to take a detour every morning, adding anywhere between five and ten minutes to my daily commute. To arrive at work on time, I should probably be leaving my house a little bit earlier, which would mean waking up five to ten minutes earlier on most days. As one might predict, I’ve been 5-10 minutes late to work almost every day since the construction began. (Whoops.)

Though seemingly unfortunate, I now consider this detour my favorite part of the day.

These moments I’m referring to occur between 7:55 and 8:05 each morning, and they rarely last for more than a minute, depending on how fast traffic is moving. If I time it right, I have the pleasure of passing a specific house at what is probably its most genuine moment of the day — and in many ways, mine as well.

As I approach the end of my morning commute, I get to witness a mother and her two daughters waiting for the school bus. On most mornings, they play games. They laugh. They smile. The older daughter assures her mother that she did all of her homework as the younger one gets her hair fixed for the school day. I never get to watch the entire scene play out, and I certainly can’t claim to know anything more than the fact that I see them and that they are real.

I don’t know their situation. I don’t know if there’s a father and/or husband in the picture. I don’t know if I’m the only one who sees them; I assume I share this sight with at least dozens of other drivers each morning, though I’m unsure they appreciate these experiences the same way I do.

Some mornings, I pass that house before 7:55am. I get to work on time on these days, but I miss out on everything I’ve described above. I don’t enjoy these days as much.

And sure, it sounds like nothing. When reading those first two paragraphs, people may have suspected I was writing about something extraordinary, something mind-blowing. And while I believe I am writing about something extraordinary, I do understand the criticism of my sentimentality. People have every right to ask, “Ryan, what’s so special about two kids waiting for a school bus?”

But I have every right to counter that it’s something we need to see to understand.

So, while I used to groan when I heard the word detour or saw a ROAD CLOSED sign, I now know it’s not always such a bad thing. There’s a reason it’s often referred to as the “scenic route.”

What (I Think) I Want

I am a firm believer in the following statement:

Nobody knows what they want until they have it.

However, I’d like to think I at least have an idea of what it is I want in a romantic partner. Clearly, I’ve been tuning in to way too many romantic comedies lately, but I often spend my drives to and from work thinking about my ideal girl. So humor me, please…

I want a girl who knows things. I thrive on connecting seemingly unrelated ideas, so it’s important for me to find a girl who knows what the hell I’m talking about (most of the time, at least). I don’t only want — I need a girl who understands my pop culture and movie references, and I want somebody who stays informed about the world. Current events, trends, problems, basic historical knowledge. These things are all important to me. She doesn’t have to Google something every time we converse.

I want a girl who is passionate. About life, about a cause, about her family. About anything. Disinterest is boring.

I want a girl I can take to family gatherings. One I can take to parties and trust to mingle and make new friends. One I don’t have to worry about leaving alone with strangers for five minutes. She’s independent, or at the very least independent enough.

I want a girl who likes to read. Books, news articles, screenplays. Stuff that I write, maybe?

I want a girl who likes to talk. I like to talk, so I want somebody who at least enjoys expressing herself. We can talk about movies, music, whatever’s in the news, or even our deepest fears — as long as she opens up about something and isn’t hesitant to share her opinions.

I want a girl who lets me cheer her up (or at least lets me try). Sad? LET ME BE CHARMING. IT’S IN MY GOD DAMN DNA FOR SOME REASON, SO LET ME USE IT.

I want a girl who does the right thing. First and foremost, I want a girl who knows what the right thing is; and on top of that, she goes ahead and does it. Or at least thinks about doing it. Nobody’s perfect.

I want a girl who’s not embarrassed easily. I act a fool sometimes. When appropriate, she straightens me out and puts me in my place. But sometimes she’s completely okay with being just as foolish.

I want a girl who’s not afraid to laugh. I’m a riot. Act accordingly.

I want a girl who’s not afraid of being called “perfect.” I say a lot of stupid things without thinking. Inappropriate jokes for cheap laughs, insensitive comments because I forget who my audience is sometimes. But don’t ever — ever — think “perfect” came out of my mouth accidentally.

I want a girl who’s strong but not ashamed to feel weak. Vulnerability is what makes us human. I want a human.

I want a girl with an open mind. She understands and accepts that not everybody thinks the same way as her and not everybody shares her beliefs. We probably won’t agree on certain things, but she listens and acknowledges that sometimes there is no right or wrong. She’s also not afraid to try new things and venture out of her comfort zone.

I want a girl who can surprise me. I want a girl who’s creative. I want a girl who’s not afraid to put herself out there and feel vulnerable. I want an artist — whether she draws, paints, sculpts, designs, acts, sings, writes, dances, cooks, builds, styles, or plays an instrument — a girl who expresses herself in her own way.

I want a girl who’s good at what she does for a living but better at the things she does to feel alive. Our occupations don’t define us. I want her to love what she does weekdays nine to five (or whenever it is she works), but I also want her to care about other things. Hobbies, sports, traveling, whatever. I want to make my life worth something, and I’d rather leave my kids with knowledge and stories than a monetary inheritance. Though, I guess the money would be nice… (Read: I want a girl who makes a lot of money so I can write all day.)

I want a girl who doesn’t need me but wants me around. She’d be just fine on her own. She’d be successful, happy even. But for some reason unbeknownst to me, she wants to hang out with me. She might even love me.

Whoa, that got real for a second.

Letter to a Five-Year-Old

Dear Haley,

You must have a lot of questions about Grandma, and I promise I’ll do my best to answer them. Just know that she loved you very much, and although you may not understand now, someday you’ll know that this was her time to go.

Where did she go exactly? I don’t know. I’m not going to tell you that Grandma went to a better place because I don’t know what happens after we die. Nobody does. All I can tell you is that you won’t be seeing her anymore. And as sad as that is, we just have to accept it.

It’s okay to feel sadness. It’s okay to cry. Just know that there was nothing you could have done to prevent this from happening. I would love to tell you that Grandma died because you didn’t clean up your toys or because you didn’t listen to your mom or because you refused to eat your vegetables, but the truth is: you did nothing wrong.

It’s also okay to laugh. This is how I deal with situations most people find upsetting. Maybe it’s how I was raised, or maybe I just see it as the logical thing to do. Instead of dwelling on the fact that you won’t be spending time with Grandma anymore, spend time remembering the moments you shared with her — the good, the bad, and the hysterical.

What did Grandma do that made you happy? What did she say that made you sad? What did Grandma say or do that almost made juice come out of your nose?

Some people will try to tell you that Grandma went up to heaven to be an angel and watch over you. I’m not going to say whether that’s true or false, but I believe the deceased live on in a different way.

When somebody you love dies, that person lives on through your memories. Through all of the stories you have to tell about him or her. Through every sight you see, through every sound you hear, through every scent you smell, through every flavor you taste. Through every little thing that reminds you of your loved one, that person becomes immortal.

And while these memories might not make Grandma the angel some believe her to be, they make her all the more intangible — her life just as permanent as her death may seem.

Basically, wait a few years and watch the movie Big Fish when you get the chance. Then you’ll understand.

 

Love,

Your (in all likelihood, second) favorite cousin

Death As We Know It

My grandmother passed away recently, making both of my parents orphans, in turn leaving my brother and me grandparentless. She was my father’s mother; his father passed away early last year. I never had the pleasure of knowing my mother’s father because he died months before I was born. And we lost my other grandmother in 2010 — she was better known as “Nanny.”

Fortunately, my parents never had to explain death to my brother or me when we were young. Nanny was really our first loss of somebody very close to us, and my brother and I were fifteen and nineteen years old at that point, respectively. I’ll say again that these circumstances are certainly fortunate, but I feel that they also contributed to my parents skipping an extremely important conversation with their children.

From what I recall, my first real experience with death — that is, attending a wake and/or funeral — was in third or fourth grade. One of my classmates had lost a brother who suffered from a crippling medical condition since birth. I remember hearing it was a relief, in a way, because my friend’s family didn’t have to watch their loved one in pain anymore. They no longer had to witness him being subjected to that type of lifestyle, clinging onto the withering hope that his condition would improve. Since we were in a Catholic school, the entire class attended the funeral mass and sat in the back of the church out of respect for our classmate and his family.

I would say my parents laid the proper foundation for my brother and me to understand the concept of death, but we never got the chance to have that talk about what death is — what it actually means when somebody dies. Perhaps it’s easier that way, allowing kids to formulate their own conceptions of life and death.

Of course, there is no way to know for sure what happens when we die, but this doesn’t stop kids from being curious, from asking questions. It shouldn’t stop us from being curious either, nor should it stop us from trying to comprehend what death truly means — and through experiencing death, comprehending what it truly means to live.

I have a five-year-old cousin who has much more experience with death than I did when I was her age. But still, I don’t believe she genuinely understands it. (Do we genuinely understand anything at the age of five?) To my knowledge, this upcoming wake and funeral will be (at least) her second experience of the sort. She was present at our grandfather’s wake and funeral last year, even though she didn’t have a relationship with him. However, my cousin had a very close relationship with our grandmother, which makes this situation particularly delicate.

Does she feel sad? Does she know to feel sad? A five-year-old is going to ask questions about her grandmother, and yes — it’s important how we answer them.

Is it right to tell my cousin that Grandma fell asleep and is never going to wake up? Wouldn’t that make her afraid to fall asleep? We can’t tell her: “Everybody dies, and someday you’re going to die, too.” That would traumatize her, however true it may be.

So, what do we say to a five-year-old?

Do we lie? Do we involve our religious beliefs and tell her that Grandma went up to heaven and is now an angel watching over her? Isn’t that just a way for people to avoid accepting death’s permanence?

How do we clarify that death is permanent? We can’t just tell a five-year-old she’s never going to see her grandmother again. Can we?

Do we make it a dialogue and say, “Haley, what do you want to know about Grandma?” Do we answer all of her questions candidly, even if it means responding “I don’t know”? Would she accept “I don’t know” as an answer and understand that sometimes there’s no way of knowing something for sure?

Or do we avoid the situation altogether? I know my family is good at that, so should this conversation wait until my cousin is older and more mature?

Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions here. Maybe instead of wondering how should we, I should be thinking how could we. If we don’t even know what happens when and after we die, how could we explain the concept of death to a child? What knowledge about death could we possibly have that makes us more qualified than a five-year-old to field existential questions?

What we know about death (pertaining to life as we know it) is limited to the fact that 1. it is inevitable and 2. it is permanent. All of the other details — the ones kids tend to ask about — get a bit fuzzy after that.

So, unless we want to explain how to organize a funeral or how to purchase a coffin or how to close bank accounts or how to write an obituary, maybe we should just stop trying to explain death to our children. Maybe we should just let them ask their own questions and form their own beliefs. And the way we do that is by simply answering honestly: “I don’t know.”

These are some great resources I found about this subject (obviously, every situation and every child is different, but it doesn’t make these any less useful):

Explaining death to a child – The Washington Post

Talking to children about death – National Institutes of Health

This Is My Girlfriend. His Name Is Greg.

I am a twenty-three year old male from New Jersey, and although I may not be gay, I am damn proud to say I live in a state with marriage equality. What do I mean “may not be gay”? Well, I mean I’m not gay, and I’m actually not quite sure why I phrased it like that. Perhaps I live to confuse people. Maybe I enjoy making my readers wonder what the hell I’m talking about sometimes.

Or maybe it doesn’t matter. What difference would it make if I were gay? Bisexual? Asexual? Chinese? None of these would change who I am as a person, so why do we put so much weight on sexual orientation and sexual preference? (I realize “Chinese” isn’t either of those. It was a joke. Chill.)

Awhile back, I had a girl over and she had a gender-neutral name. When my father heard the name, he worried that it was a male with whom I was spending my time. Since it wasn’t, my entire family shared a laugh regarding the situation, but I still didn’t like the fact that my father was worried. My friends always joke with me about liking dudes (because I’m so comfortable with my sexuality and they know I don’t, obviously… *laughs nervously*), and my dad frequently pokes fun at my pants because they’re not baggy like Ryan Sheckler’s. I feel like everybody is waiting for me to bring somebody home one day and say: “This is my girlfriend. His name is Greg.” And that’s exactly how I’d go about it, by the way.

But I can’t wrap my head around the way we claim to have come so far as a nation and as people when so many of us still operate according to antiquated ideologies.

This past December (on my birthday, might I add), New Mexico became the seventeenth state to legalize same-sex marriage. (Utah legalized it the next day, but that’s like a whole thing now.) How is it that only seventeen states in this great country have signed this into law and stuck with it? We live in a nation built on the principle of freedom. “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” There is nothing “brave” about some of the reasons that members of marriage equality’s opposition use to justify their stance.

Well if two men can marry, then what’s stopping people from marrying their dogs?

For starters, pet owners probably love their dogs, but that doesn’t mean they are in love with them. It’s sort of like how a guy breaks up with a girl he doesn’t want to murder him immediately afterward. (“I love you, but I’m not in love with you. Ya know?”) I realize that some people are actually in love with their dogs, but I’d like to make the case that these people shouldn’t be getting married anyway.

An organization called TFP Student Action, which is a project of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, has an article entitled 10 Reasons Why Homosexual “Marriage” is Harmful and Must be Opposed on its site. In the article, one of the reasons is:

6. It Does Not Create a Family but a Naturally Sterile Union”

If anything, this should be considered a positive. So what if homosexuals can’t reproduce? Many choose to adopt, which is wonderful because somebody needs to raise all of the unwanted children born as a result of the “moral opposition” to abortion and contraception.

Let’s consider this hypothetical situation:

An extremely conservative couple falls in love and gets married. (Like “real” married, not gay married.) They have a healthy baby boy and love him very much. At some point in the boy’s twenties, he comes out of the closet to his parents and admits he is homosexual. The conservative couple cannot stand the thought of their only child being gay and disown him. He finds his way, falling in love with a fantastic guy and settling down. When the homosexual couple is ready, they adopt a child from a young woman whose parents raised her not to believe in contraception nor abortion. (They also raised her not to believe in premarital sex, but that’s a different story.)

In this situation, the gay son in the beginning goes from being wanted to unwanted by his parents. The child he adopts with his partner goes from being unwanted by his/her biological parents to wanted by the gay couple.

What was the point of that particular hypothetical? To prove that whatever point I’m trying to make here is right. And now we’re back to nobody knowing what I’m talking about…

It’s a vicious circle, really, and lately I find that it is all too common. I often embark on a journey with my words, ignorant of where they will take me. While many of these journeys are well-intentioned (usually consisting of me just trying to be funny and/or incite a conversation), I dig myself into pretty deep holes sometimes.

I have yet to figure out the reason for this — whether it’s because people don’t get me or because I’m just a babbling buffoon who will sell his soul for a laugh because it makes him burn in a good type of hell on the inside. Perhaps I’ve lost you again. I may have lost myself this time.

So, what does all of this have to do with sexual preference? Nothing. But everything, really.

If I were in the closet, me not making sense would make perfect sense. However, that is not the case. Unfortunately (or fortunately? (depending on which twisted way you look at it)), I am merely a person who purposely and accidentally — but always purposefully — puts himself into situations that will test and reveal his character. I’m a tortured soul who gets off on the existential anxiety he causes himself on a daily basis.

Digging holes probably isn’t the best idea, but it’s always a rush climbing out of them. How have you challenged yourself today?

I rest my extremely heterosexual case.

I rest my extremely heterosexual case.